Entrepreneur Arrives : Owners Who Moved Publishing Firm to Irvine Have Seen the Magazine's Circulation Grow

Times Staff Writer

A year after purchasing a controlling share of Santa Monica-based Entrepreneur magazine, a three Orange County businessmen have moved the publishing company to Irvine.

"This is really the hotbed of entrepreneurship--Orange County," said Barry Rupp, chairman and chief executive officer of Entrepreneur Group Inc., the parent company of the magazine for small businesses. "I think it's a great place to have this kind of magazine."

Rupp, Peter Shea and Reinhold Phahler, who own Stained Glass Overlay Inc. in Irvine, purchased 60% of the outstanding shares of Entrepreneur Group Inc. in December, 1986, for more than $3.5 million from magazine founder Chase Revel.

The move to Irvine took place in December, and the magazine's sign went up last week on the one-story headquarters building on Morse Avenue along the San Diego Freeway. Rupp said the move was part of a plan to locate both the magazine and the stained-glass business under one roof.

Publication Uninterrupted

Publication of the magazine, which is in its 11th year and has a staff of 70, was uninterrupted by the move.

Since Rupp and his associates took over Entrepreneur, circulation has increased substantially. According to the Audit Bureau of Circulation, Entrepreneur readership steadily increased to 193,904 for the last six months of 1987 from 132,872 in the same period of 1986. The magazine is distributed throughout the United States and Canada.

"We've beefed up our marketing staff," Rupp said. "We now have representatives in New York, Detroit and Chicago. We're becoming a major force in the market place."

In its own market survey to identify its readers, Entrepreneur compared itself to Venture, with a circulation of 428,000, and Inc. with 634,000 readers.

But Rupp insists that Entrepreneur is targeted toward those people wanting to start their own business or who now own a small business and so is not in direct competition with Venture, Inc. or anyone else: "There's no one out there gearing themselves toward the people we are. As far as readership, we aren't even trying to compete with those people."

Bo Burlingham, editor of Inc. magazine, agreed. "They're going after a different segment of the market than we are," he said.

Inc., Burlingham said, is "written for founders and presidents" of established companies rather than for people who are just starting out. "Our focus is different," he said.

Point Made Obvious

That point is made obvious in a letter to readers in the February issue of Entrepreneur. "In this issue you can find out how to start a cinnamon roll shop, open a janitorial service, or cash in on the current wedding boom," writes Executive Editor Rieva Lesonsky.

Rupp said many of Entrepreneur's readers are or have been a part of corporate America but because of increasing layoffs, they have been forced to look for other alternatives, including starting their own businesses.

According to Simmons Market Research Bureau Inc., a publishing-research company hired by Rupp and his partners to study the demographics of Entrepreneur's readers, the average subscriber earns about $52,000 a year. The research company also found that 40% of the magazine's readers already own a business.

This kind of data has been helpful in attracting for the first time the attention of such major advertisers as Chrysler, Toyota and copier-maker Canon Inc., whose ads can now be seen alongside the magazine's more plentiful "How to Get Rich" ads.

"We're upscaling our ads a lot, but we don't want to lose a lot of the readers we have already," Rupp said. "There are some get-rich-quick ads. But a lot of people like to read those. People are looking for new ideas."

Rupp, who along with his partners now owns 80% of the company stock, predicts a circulation of 600,000 for Entrepreneur over the next few years.

"With proper management and marketing, we're sure it can be one of the major magazines in the United States," he said.

"The name of the magazine is golden," Rupp said. "Entrepreneurship is at the forefront of everything. The name says what it's all about."

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